Type of practice: Education and orientation
Country: Malaysia
Name of Stakeholder: Government of Malaysia
Type of Stakeholder Implementing the Practice: Host State
Type of crisis: Conflict, Natural Disaster
Crisis phase: Crisis Preparedness

Related Link: Strengthening Post-arrival Orientation Programs for Migrant Workers in ASEAN


Since 2004 the Malaysian Government requires foreign workers to attend an induction course on communication skills, Malaysian culture and laws and regulations. The course is provided through training centres located in the sending countries and accredited by the Ministry of Human Resources (MoHR). Completion of the course is a precondition for the issuance of employment visa by the Immigration Department of Malaysia (JIM). There is a cost involved for the worker, although the amount has not been verified. The aim of the course is to help promote good social relations, improve adherence to standards of workplace safety and health, enable foreign workers in Malaysia to have basic communication skills in English or Malay, and develop understanding of Malaysian laws and regulations. In order for foreign workers to be eligible to work in Malaysia and complete the induction course, they must comply with all requirements of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Malaysia and the migrant sending country, mainly all foreign workers working in Malaysia must possess sufficient knowledge of Malaysian culture and social practices; be able to communicate either in English or Malay language and comply with all Malaysian laws, regulations and immigration procedures. In addition, workers and must be literate and numerate. For foreign workers who are already in Malaysia, the training is provided by the employer in case there are any changes in the workers job task or the introduction of a new work system in their current tasks. The Malaysian Government has appointed the National Vocational Training Council (Majlis Latihan Vokasional Kebangsaan - MLVK), a department under the MoHR to develop the training modules for this specific course. MLVK has in turn appointed certain accredited training companies to conduct the induction courses on its behalf. Employers can also implement the induction course themselves, though they must notify Jabatan Tenaga Kerja (JTK- Labour Department) and submit the course syllabus for approval. Foreign workers who successfully complete the induction course receive a Certificate of Eligibility from the National Vocational Training Council, Malaysia.

Guidelines/Thematic Areas

Empowering migrants

GUIDELINE 3: Empower migrants to help themselves, their families, and communities during and in the aftermath of crises

In order to help themselves and others and to enjoy their rights, migrants need access to identity documents, basic public services, and financial and other resources. Migrants’ ability to help themselves and enjoy their rights can be undermined by factors related to their entry and stay, means of arrival, connections to local populations, and conditions in the host State, including in workplaces. These factors can in turn undermine emergency response and recovery efforts.

States, private sector actors, international organizations, and civil society can promote migrants’ resilience and empower migrants to help themselves during and after a crisis by addressing underlying conditions of vulnerability. Respecting, protecting, and fulfilling migrants' human and labor rights in ordinary times advance these goals as do efforts to ensure migrants are able to access information, basic services, and administrative, judicial, and other redress mechanisms.

Legal, policy, and operational factors that constrain protection should be addressed. Examples of obstacles include laws, policies, and practical barriers that arbitrarily restrict the movement of migrants, enable arbitrary detention, discriminate between migrants and citizens in the provision of humanitarian assistance, or permit exploitative employment or recruitment practices.

In times of crisis, fear of immigration enforcement can inhibit migrants, particularly those in an irregular immigration status, from accessing necessary help. In this context, it is important to separate immigration enforcement actions from those that promote migrants’ access to services, humanitarian assistance, identity documents, and movement.

Stakeholders can provide migrants—prior to departure from the State of origin, upon arrival in the host State, and during their stay in the host State—with pertinent information related to country-specific conflict or natural disaster hotspots, rights and potential rights violations or abuses, ways to access timely, credible, and regular information, emergency contact points, and what to do and where to go in the event of a crisis. Building migrants’ skills to communicate in the host-State language and increasing migrants’ financial literacy may prompt migrants to invest in savings, take out micro-insurance, and better prepare for navigating unforeseen circumstances.

Sample Practices

  • Pre-departure and post-arrival training for migrants that includes crisis-related information.
  • Positive communication about migrants, including through migrant role models and campaigns to promote tolerance, non-discrimination, inclusiveness, and respect.
  • Financial products, including micro-insurance, savings accounts, and fast-cash loans that target migrants’ needs, including low-income migrants.
  • Measures that respect, protect, and fulfill migrants’ human and labor rights, including addressing barriers that inhibit migrants’ ability to enjoy their rights.
  • Identity cards for migrants in an irregular immigration status to promote their access to services.
  • Ethical recruitment processes and accreditation, and integrity certification schemes.
  • Community-based alternatives to detention for migrants.